There’s a magnolia in the northwest corner of the front yard, near the street, that is dying. It’s been dying for a long time. The crown is bare of leaves and the wood is brittle, sometimes breaking away in strong winds.
Steven hired Victor to muck out the back yard and take down the magnolia; it was textbook This Old House.
Several neighbors chatted as they walked past, as Victor took down the magnolia. Everyone was happy to see it go — it’s not native to Austin. The oaks will draw more water and light.
With sprinkler repairs underway, with the fences and gates erected to create a safe yard for Adobe to burn off crazy-puppy calories while attempting to keep the deer out, Steven asked Victor to haul the trash out of the back yard.
Steven and Victor have done this before. Victor and his team installed part of the landscaping at Sea Eagle, and tackled specific jobs at Emerald Hill during construction.
Now we create a clean slate at Emerald Hill.
When Jacquela and Steven bought Emerald Hill, the back yard was not a priority — saving the house from itself was where we focused.
Previous owners used the back yard as a storage yard for broken tree limbs, old dog toys, an old telephone system wiring box, detritus, cast offs. The sage, lantana and other plants were old, tired, thready. Volunteer hackberries had taken root, making the northeast corner dark, dumping leaves. Lumber used for edging around what purported to be planting beds was rotting away.
Victor and his brother Francisco set to work saving the back yard, racing against approaching rain.
The real estate agent — Sari Pearce — connected Steven with Jose Vences, landscaper. Today, Jose is at Sea Eagle cutting back the wild grasses that grew tall through the summer and then gray in winter; blowing and raking up all the leaves; pulling weeds; mowing the small front and back lawns. Everything seemed to collect on the surface of the pool, which Steven cleaned twice as Jose and the 30mph winds wreaked havoc.
Above, Jose threshes the tall grass at the hill next to the pool.
Ramon continues to whittle away at the pile of dirt carved out to form the foundation of the new garage bay. Here he is, above, about mid-day. By end of day, he’s down to a layer of dirt atop the asphalt driveway.
Jacquela tested the washing machine for the first time this morning. Steven discovered water pooling in the pan under the tankless water heater upstairs. Ranserve dispatched Barry from Custom Plumbing, who adjusted the condensate hose fitting into the drain pipe. The water should not be backing up and filling the pan. We’ll see if this fix works.